Over the last several years, the importance of the names on the list of Buffalo Bills pre-draft visitors has become fairly common knowledge for the team's fan base. Buffalo has a strong history of picking multiple players from that list in each NFL Draft cycle. For each of three glorious years from 2012-14, the team announced the names of all 30 of their pre-draft visitors - but they have since ceased that practice, for good reason.
The Bills did not release their full list of pre-draft visitors in the 2010 or 2011 seasons, but we do know that they hosted both of their first-round picks from those two drafts - Clemson running back C.J. Spiller (link) and Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (link) - on pre-draft visits.
2012 Bills pre-draft visitors: Their first-round pick, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, was on the list, as was second-round pick, Georgia left tackle Cordy Glenn. They also used a fifth-round pick on a third visitor, TCU linebacker Tank Carder, who didn't make the team that year.
2013 Bills pre-draft visitors: The Bills went quarterback-heavy in 2013, and ended up with two of their nine pre-draft visitors at the position in first-round pick EJ Manuel of Florida State, and priority free agent Jeff Tuel of Washington State. Fifth-round pick Jonathan Meeks, a safety out of Clemson, was also on the list, as was one of the most popular undrafted signings in recent memory, Tennessee Tech receiver Da'Rick Rogers.
2014 Bills pre-draft visitors: This is when the trend reached a fever pitch. Each of their picks in the first four rounds - Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Louisville linebacker Preston Brown, and Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell - were announced as pre-draft visitors. That's hard to ignore, even for the team's official website.
So hard, in fact, that the Bills discontinued their practice of announcing the names of their pre-draft visitors last year, even when they didn't have a first-round pick. Still, among the few 2015 pre-draft visitor names we were able to cobble together last spring, two of them - Louisville guard John Miller, and Florida State running back Karlos Williams - were picked by the team.
It's highly unlikely that the Bills will reverse course and disclose their pre-draft visitors this year; frankly, given how much weight they give to that part of the process, it'd be a competitive disadvantage for them to do so. But prospects and their agents are eager to share the names of the teams that they're visiting with this time of year, anyway, so we already know the names of eight Bills pre-draft visitors for the 2016 NFL Draft - and more may be unearthed over the next month.
Here's the list, as we know it, so far - and we will, of course, continue to update it as the draft approaches.
- Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
- Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
- Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
- Devon Johnson, FB, Marshall
- Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU
- Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
- Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
- Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
- Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
- Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
- Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville
- Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
- Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State
- Su'a Cravens, LB, USC
- Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
- Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
- Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida
- Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
- Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
- Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama
- Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
- Kelvin Fisher, Jr., S, UTEP
- Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia